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Genetically modified pigs could become human organ donors

13 Agosto 2017
Genetically modified pigs could become human organ donors

They took cells from pigs and snipped the viral DNA from their genomes.

Scientists at a MA company seeking to make pig organs safe enough to be transplanted into humans have used gene-editing technology to clone piglets that lack a potentially risky retrovirus, according to a study released on Thursday. "We are pushing the envelope of technology day by day". For decades, scientists have thought animals could solve the problem.

Study author George Church, a geneticist at Harvard and founder of eGenesis, told the Times he thinks that pig-to-human transplants could happen within two years.

"We got perfectly healthy piglets", Church tells The Verge, "so that's fantastic". In any event, said Dr. A. Joseph Tector, a transplant surgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pig retroviruses are very sensitive to the drugs used to treat HIV.

The transplant process, known as 'xenotransplantation, ' has, until now, been held up by the presence of Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) in pig cells, a type of virus researchers feared could be transmitted to humans.

Pigs are pretty great animals: They're adorable, and unless you're a vegetarian, you probably find them delicious. Church says it was a "pleasant surprise" to discover that the edited piglets didn't get re-infected when growing inside a PERVs-infected mother.

Genetically modified pigs could become human organ donors

Surgeons are used to evaluating the risks of infection from transplanted organs, Tector said.

The PERV family aren't the only pathogen in town, but they are among the most concerning. But it may be years before enough is known about the safety of pig organ transplants to allow them to be used widely. This involves immunological changes as well as making the tissues compatible and fixing blood-clotting issues. This, they say, may lead to the first direct xenotransplantation within as little as two years. The Transgenic pigs can be a source to provide organs and as well as tiny islet cells that secrete insulin, by being around the pancreas and these cells are also potential treatment remedies for diabetes.

Studying the eGenesis-edited pigs will also give researchers the opportunity to see whether editing a significant number of genes with CRISPR causes any long-term problems in mammals. The supply is way below the demand and the gap is only expected to grow wider. In their new work the Yang team performed experiments confirming that pig retroviruses can infect human cells-just as another retrovirus, HIV, does with people.

While the latest research was able to remove the threat of the pig virus, there are still other concerns in transferring pig organs into humans.

Thanks to a life-science company's confirmed ability to create pigs completely free of a potentially infectious virus, we're closer than ever to delivering human transplant organs from pigs. If this happened, it may cause diseases like cancer.

Through Gene Editing, the team has tried to eliminate the PERV virus including the traces in a vitro fertilization, from the cell line.